BRICS forum aims to promote city-to-city ties

Updated: 2011-12-02 15:10


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SANYA, Hainan - The first BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Governments Cooperation Forum opened Friday in the beach-side resort of Sanya, focusing on deepening cooperation between the world's five major emerging economies.

Politicians, scholars and business people from the five BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - will meet at the two-day forum to foster communication and discuss shared concerns amid global uncertainties.

The decision to hold the forum was announced at the BRICS summit in April this year, when leaders of the five nations jointly issued a declaration to seek shared prosperity.

Under the theme "Broad Vision, Shared Prosperity, Developing Friendship Cities, Promoting Cooperation," the forum is expected to bring together BRICS cities by initiating regular meetings to foster closer ties and boost local-level cooperation.

"The forum is expected to create a platform to boost communication between local governments and further promote ties between BRICS sister cities," said Lu Yongxiang, a senior Chinese legislator at the opening ceremony.

The BRICS countries have contributed to global growth, multilateralism, and democratization of international relations, said Lu, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

"Promoting common prosperity has become an especially urgent and important task in the face of  all the current global uncertainties," he said.

The BRICS nations have witnessed strong growth in trade over the past decade. From 2001 to 2010, trade among the five countries grew at an annual rate of 28 percent to reach nearly 230 billion U.S. dollars.

The five economies outperformed developed ones during the global financial crisis. Their combined gross domestic product accounted for 18 percent of the global GDP in 2010. Their trade volume took up 15 percent of the world's total last year.

Panel discussions will be held to talk over issues like food safety, eco-friendly urban development, financial crisis and energy strategies.

Albert Kleiman, chief of the International Advisory under Secretariat of Federal Affairs of the Secretariat of Institutional Relations of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil, said all BRICS nations are facing challenges from rapid urbanization, migration, food security and all other issues, which needed joint efforts for resolution.

Local governments are responsible for better implementing central government policies, to improve people's well-beings, he said.

Dialogues regarding agriculture, medicines and high technologies had been going on within the BRICS framework, which are conducted in more diversified ways and more practically, said Russian Ambassador Sergey Razov.

Razov said with rapid growth in trade and economic cooperation, more efforts should be put into expanding direct links between cities and regions to better achieve common goals in development.

According to Kleiman, the Brazilian government has established a special fund to boost cooperation between local governments, part of which planned to be spent on projects related to the ongoing forum.

The term of BRIC was coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neil in 2001 to group four fast-growing economies - Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Formally established in June 2009, BRIC became BRICS when South Africa was inducted into the group during a summit held in Sanya, China, in April 2011.

Chinese cities now have established 1,817 sister-city agreements with foreign cities and states, of which 167 were from the BRICS countries.